Monday 27 June 2016

Blog update Pt1

  Looking back to the months of March and April, one of the lasting memories I will have, will be of several auroras during the months.The first I saw was a very brief glow on the 6th, but that was followed by another on the 7th. The downside was that the wind was fairly strong from the north east which meant one of my 'quick visit' locations wasn't really suitable (by quick visit, I meant  just a short drive in the car and not a long trek like out to Hermaness) So I decided the Skidbladner at Haroldswick might provide a bit of protection from the blow, so I headed down there. Sadly once again we were blighted by cloud cover and so I didn't stay very long.......

The first was from Lamba Ness

The Skidbladner at Haroldswick

  On the 16th/17th March, there was another forecast but by now, the moon was getting pretty bright. Despite this - or even possibly because of it, I decided to head of up to Hermaness for the evening.......
 Looking north from near the end of the boadwalk

 Muckle Flugga

Humla Stack

  The last picture is a shot I've wanted to take for a while - well almost, but not quite - its still not quite as I want, hopefully next winter. I need four things to fall into place; a good aurora, a clear sky, no wind (or very little) and at least a half moon - and some Gannets on the stacks !

  As far as interesting or unusual birds go, the highlight was a cracking view of an immature Sea Eagle over the north of the island on 12th/13th March. A large raptor was seen over Hermaness on the 12th and then the following day I was stopped by a crofter who told me he'd seen a Sea Eagle up on Saxavord; I had Rona with me, so we headed up to take a look. I spotted something in the distance (which turned out to be a Hen Harrier) and as I was looking, Rona said ''Look, what's that up there''? - it was the Sea Eagle. After a short 'chase' in the car, the bird headed back over our heads at Saxa Vord. As it past over, it was almost full frame in the camera, but for some reason it wouldn't focus - it was a flat, grey sky however in the defence of my 7D2 :) I turned the auto focus off and got a record shot as it drifted off over Burrafirth........

Sea Eagle and Hooded Crow 
  On another occasion I was driving along the shore road through Haroldswick when I heard and almighty commotion. I soon tracked down the reason, it was a female Sparrowhawk that had caught a Starling down on the beach. The bird stood there for several minutes with water washing over the hawks feet and all the time being harried by numerous birds. The Sparrowhawk eventually flew off, dropping the still live Starling in the process (which then flew off).......

Sparrowhawk with Starling

  A few other common birds from March.....

 Rook - not too common on Unst

 Heron with frog


 My first Golden Plover of the year back on the hill 

  My first Pied Wagtail of the 'Spring' 

Purple Sandpiper at Lamba Ness hunkering down out of a storm.


  On the 2nd of April, I had my first evening visit of the year to Hermaness. It was an evening of lovely  light but the sun sank in to a band of cloud on the horizon just before sunset.....

  On the walk back later down the board walk, I noticed the green glow of a mild aurora, as it got darker, for awhile it grew brighter, but sadly it didn't last.....

  Over the next couple of nights, we were treated to several nice displays, the ones below are a few from various parts of Unst.....

  Bird wise, April was rather 'slow' regarding migration. The wind had been from virtually every direction apart from the one that mattered and that was SE. Even so, there were still a few new birds around in the later part of the month.....

 Black Redstart in Baltasound

 Turnstone at Norwick

Great Grey Shrike at Burrafirth 

 Golden Plover at Valla Field

 Longtailed Duck at Belmont

 Lapland Bunting at Inner Skaw

 Barnacle Geese at Baltasound.....
 ...these geese hung around until the wind changed from a northerly airflow

 Gannets at Hermaness

 Blue 'phase' Fulmar at Lamba Ness

Blue 'phase' Fulmar with a 'normal' one.

  A few landscapes from April....

 Lamba Ness

Hamar from Ordaal

 Hill of Clibberswick from Lamba Ness

 Looking east from Ordaal


 Easting Beach

 Belmont at dusk

 Breiwick looking towards Flugga'

Part of Humla Stack Hermaness.